Spicy radishes are more than mere salad fodder (though they're great there, too!). As chef Jo Lusted demonstrates in three fresh, simple radish recipes, it's worth getting reacquainted with these spicy little rooters. Herein, her radish rundown.
Actually part of the mustard family, radishes come in many different colours, spice levels and sizes (see below). In fact, some varieties grow to more than 100 pounds!
Like wasabi, radishes' spiciness emerges as you chew and their various components mix together.
Radishes are a great source of vitamin C and can help combat urinary and kidney problems.
Radishes are full of surprising benefits: For one, they actually help freshen your breath! But that's not all. Low-cal and filling, radishes can also aid in weight loss.
A 1/2-cup serving has a mere 19 calories and just four grams of carbs.
Radishes are extremely easy to grow and mature rapidly, making them a gardener's best friend.
Radishes are classified into two groups, based on their growing season: spring and winter.
Red radishes (a.k.a. Cherry Belle) are the most common variety, readily available at most grocery stores.
Look for radishes with their skin intact.
If they become spongy, soak radishes in a bowl of ice-cold water.
Red radishes' mild flavour works great in salads.
Rad dish: roasted radishes with warm olive vinaigrette.
White Icicle Radishes
Often sold with their tops attached, white icicle radishes are carrot-shaped and easy to cut.
Don't throw those tops out! They're delicious sautéed in butter with salt.
They are slightly spicer than the average red radish.
Rad dishes: great in salads or chopped and served with dip.
Shorter than the icicle variety, breakfast radishes are marked by their red body and white tip.
Their flavour is bolder and spicier than regular red radishes.
Rad dishes: sliced lengthwise, spread with butter and salted or placed atop a buttered baguette as a tartine à la the French.
The word daikon comes from two Japanese words: dai, meaning large, and kon, meaning root.
This large white radish is much milder than its relative, the red radish.
Daikon contains active enzymes that aid in digestion, particularly that of starchy foods.
When shopping for daikon, look for firm and shiny specimens. Unfortunately, it doesn't store well, so try and use it right away.
Japanese daikon is typically longer and skinnier than the Chinese variety, but the two can be used interchangeably.
Daikon is best julienned or grated for a more subtle flavour and can be stir-fried, grilled, baked, boiled, broiled or, Jo's favourite, pickled. The Japanese like to grate it and serve it alongside sushi or sashimi.
Rad dish: Vietnamese sandwich (chicken bánh mì)
Perhaps the most visually striking radish, the watermelon variety gets its name from its green exterior and bright-magenta interior.
Generally, the watermelon radish is hotter on the outside and sweeter in the middle.
Unlike many other radishes, the intensity of the watermelon radish decreases as it matures.
These radishes can be cooked like turnips, creamed and served as a side dish, sautéed and braised to be served as a vegetable dish or even added to stir-fries. And, of course, they're also great in salads (see below).